Putting Your Investment to Work in Currituck County-2014 Positive Impacts
N.C. Cooperative Extension in Currituck County exists to support North Carolina’s $78 billion agriculture industry by providing research based, educational information to local communities. Primary audiences and programs include services to farms and agribusinesses; reaching tomorrow’s leaders through the 4-H and Youth Development program; and assisting the primary consumers of agricultural products – families.
In 2014 Currituck Extension celebrated the centennial anniversary of Extension. A large portion of the year was spent interpreting and celebrating the history of what this organization has meant to Currituck County. There has been monumental work accomplished over the past 100 years and this continued with several monumental milestones reached in 2014. The total economic impact of Extension programming conducted by Currituck County in 2014 was over $4 million. Contacts with the public rose by 6% from the previous year while volunteers increased their involvement by 25%. Improved marketing and registration systems led to a 24% increase in program enrollment and attendance in 2014.
According to the 2012 Agriculture Census by the NC Department of Agriculture, cash farm receipts totaled over $29 million for Currituck County, which has over 27,000 acres of spread across 80 different farms.
Each year, Extension conducts trials of various varieties of corn, soybean, wheat and other crops to collect data and provide non-biased information to farmers to assist in making planting decisions. In 2014, 13 variety trials were conducted in our region. The results of the corn and soybean trials provided for an economic benefit to farmers utilizing these varieties, determined to be high yielding and well-adapted for northeast North Carolina of $2,788,628. In 2014, training conducted in Currituck County by Extension staff and specialists provided 282 pesticide recertification credit hours preserving an estimated $876,000 in wages.
Thirteen new Extension Master Gardeners were certified in 2014 and 56 were re-certified. Currently 11% of the total population of Currituck receives food and nutritional services. In response to this, Currituck Extension staff and Extension Master Gardener Volunteers initiated the Currituck Community Garden Project to provide access to fresh, local produce for low income families. The current Community Garden consists of eight, 4’x16’ raised garden beds on a 40’ x 40’ plot that is located within the Currituck County Rural Center. Beds are available to low income families in need through an application process. Beds tended by Master Gardeners yield fresh produce delivered to the Lower Currituck Food Pantry weekly when in season.
Family and Consumer Science Impacts
The “Get Fit Currituck” program which reached over 250 people through various initiatives is designed to help citizens get fit and healthy. Seventy-nine participants reported they increased their physical activity to meet or exceed the daily recommendations and 33 of these participants reported a lowering of their BMI by almost a full point. Together these lifestyle changes saved our community an estimated $213,658.88 in medical care and lost productivity costs. Another result of the Get Fit Currituck initiative was the creation of the Currituck Run Club which has a current paid, active membership of 35 along with an online community of 123 members.
In Northeast North Carolina nearly 20% of residents are considered food insecure. This means families don’t have reliable and consistent access to nutritious food. To address this issue FCS staff collaborated with Pilmore Food Pantry to conduct a series of cooking classes using Extension’s Cook Smart Eat Smart Curriculum. Each client learned ways to use ingredients, prepare no salt recipes, make their own salad dressings and most of all stretch their food dollars.
The Seniors Health Insurance Information Program was also conducted to help seniors enroll in and change prescription drug plans. This year, counselors spent over 200 hours working one-on-one with clients assisting 162 Medicare beneficiaries during the enrollment period and saving these clients a total of $78,769.22.
4-H and Youth Development Impacts
In 2014, 4-H staff delivered embryology education to 270 second grade students in five elementary schools. Ten teachers were trained to deliver the curriculum and incubators, hatching eggs, candlers and other needed supplies were provided to teachers at no cost to the schools. Approximately seventy percent of the students who participated showed improved interest in class work and increased interaction during class as a result of the embryology project. Two thirds of participants were reported by teachers as having gained a basic knowledge of the life cycle and increased interest in science.
In partnership with Currituck County Public Schools six weeks of summer camp for students were offered at two locations and fifty elementary students in grades K-5 were enrolled. Teen volunteers were also trained to assist with the delivery of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math workshops. Evaluations showed an increase in students’ knowledge of simple machines; forensic science; and the engineering design process. Parents reported that their children would be better prepared to learn more about science during the school year.
The Currituck County 4-H Community Service & Restitution Program provides juvenile offenders meaningful, supervised opportunities to complete court ordered community service hours and to meet restitution obligations. In 2014, 30 youth & 6 adult supervising volunteers contributed 700+ hours of service to the community. While the sheer number of hours (along with the corresponding financial value of each hour) is a significant contribution to the county, the positive behavioral changes in the youth participating is the most significant impact. Almost 92% of youth successfully completing the Community Service & Restitution Program have not returned to the court system and 4 have continued to volunteer in the community on their own volition.
Income generated at the CCRC (Currituck County Rural Center) in 2014 increased by 78% from the previous year. Equine event attendance totaled 2700 people for the year and feedback from facility renters indicated that the grounds, facilities, and arena footing have been rated as outstanding. These positive experiences provided for renters has already resulted in bookings and events for 2015. The Currituck Heritage Festival was held at the CCRC in September. Over 1000 visitors came out to celebrate Currituck Heritage and the Centennial of Extension while gaining exposure to this phenomenal county asset.
In 2014, administrative staff processed an average of 60 incoming contacts per day (an increase of 6% from last year). Staff managed registration and logistics for an average of 4 internal events per week and served as building liaisons and support for an average of 4 external events per week. Staff also coordinated reservations and billing for the CCRC and and the Extension facility. Improved use of technology and expanded event marketing resulted in a drastic decrease in postage expenses and produced a 24% increase in program registration and attendance over the past year.
Extension in Currituck returned over $8 of impact and benefit for every $1 invested by Currituck County. Many programs are funded by resources obtained through grants, private donations and fundraising. Extension in Currituck is a pro-active educational program that addresses needs before they become expensive issues. Impacts in 2014 have proven this organization to be a very wise investment. For more information about Extension educational programming visit our website at currituck.ces.ncsu.edu or call the office at 252-232-2261.